Archive for the ‘Human Resources Management’ Category

Find, Develop and Keep the Best Employees

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News & Observer column, The View from HR.

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

When the economy crashes, a blindfolded rhinoceros could find good people to fill open jobs. When labor markets tighten, great hires are in short supply again. It is a cycle as predictable as the tides. Finding, developing and keeping great talent is not complex. It is hard, expensive and time consuming. It means you know what the role requires, what your culture rewards and what your tolerance is for variations. Tight labor markets mean it is time to think differently. Our organization teaches best and next practices to HR professionals and managers. Here are some tips for small and mid-size employers.

People are Human

Every employee eventually reveals their humanity. The key to great hiring is learning what makes this applicant human before you make the hire.  Internal hires, promotions, employee referrals, social networks and live networking give you free previews. References will lie and interviews are usually terrible predictors of future success.  Certain assessment tools will help, if you understand which tool suits your specific needs. Maximize your funnel of applicants that you know something about! Fill that funnel in advance of a need.

Be Specific and Demanding

Spend as much time screening out as you do screening IN. How will you find the best fit if you cave on your criteria early? Look for legitimate job-related reasons to eliminate applicants:  not typos on resumes, but a true lack of skills, experience, desire, capacity and fit. You may have time to purposefully modify your requirements later. For now, stick to your guns.

Interview for Successful Experience

If the role requires experience or judgment, spend interview time on these things. This is not the time to explain your company culture or role requirements. This is the time to test for them. If an applicant cannot describe their solid sales process, it is unlikely they will be an immediate contributor on your sales team. Resist the temptation to overlook serious gaps with the hope energy and effort will prevail.

Get it

Successful, growing businesses are unique. Their best employees “get it,” embracing that uniqueness. Short of a hostile or illegal environment, each employer still has the right to select people who “get” their uniqueness and their customers. A tech start up has a very different “it” than a drywall contractor. Know the “it” and hire people who get “it.”

Developing People
Your best people want development, on the job experiences, rotations and new assignments. The best employees deserve mentoring and coaching.
Training is another great way to introduce new skills.  The point is, development is important for employers to get the most from employees but is also an important retention tool. Good people leave workplaces that offer no growth.

Keep the Best

Great people quit for many reasons, both preventable and unavoidable. Managers are surprised to learn these reasons:

  1. Unrealistic pre-hire expectations
  2. People will exchange some pay for some flexibility, but it must be real flexibility
  3. Employees who feel ignored by their manager may look elsewhere

Stop allowing the economy to guide your commitment to talent acquisition and retention. Grab the reins!

Using Professional Associations as a Recruiting Tool

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Social and professional online networking has quickly become an important tool in the Human Resources arsenal for connecting with a larger pool of passive candidates for future job openings. Often, recruiters can narrow their search within these tools by focusing on specific groups or associations to which these candidates may belong or are following.

Using_Associations_for_Recruiting

There are a number of professional associations that focus either on a specific industry or role common across all industry verticals. Many of these associations are large enough to have a national following, with local chapters having regular discussions and expanding membership. Typically, such associations can be divided into one of two groups, functional and technical. Some examples are:

Functional Associations:

  • AAA (American Accounting Association)
    For Accountants, Finance Specialists, Controllers, etc.
  • AMA (American Marketing Association)
    Dedicated to serving the educational and professional needs of marketing professionals
  • CSCMP (Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals)
    Worldwide professional association dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of research and knowledge on supply chain management
  • CAI (Capital Associated Industries)
    For members of CAI, we offer the opportunity to post to our job boards, through myCAI, our members only online community which reaches 2,700+ HR and business professionals throughout North Carolina.
  • SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management)
    Largest organization for HR professionals including HR Generalists, HR Managers, HR Diversity, HR Business Partners, Compensation, Benefits, Employee Relations, and University Relations

Technical Associations:

  • ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers)
    Known for Mechanical Engineering, but also collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, standards, and certifications
  • INCOSE (International Council on Systems Engineering)
    Dedicated to the advancement of systems engineering
  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
    The largest engineering association in the world with a focus in Electrical and IT/Systems Engineering

Professional recruiters can identify such associations by talking with their existing employees to determine which groups exist and, more importantly, to separate the more “serious” groups from those that may be less organized or less followed.

From here, recruiters can use such group memberships to zero in on their top passive candidates and perhaps engage them directly regarding a current job opening. Proactively, recruiters can begin to assemble a pool of passive candidates to approach with future job openings.

For example, you could add to your search criteria the phrasing “cscmp OR Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals”. Add to this the words “bio OR profile” to eliminate job postings and get the equivalent of a resume or CV. Finally, incorporate “manufacturing OR materials” in order to target specific areas of industry.

Proficiency in mining exactly the results you are looking for will allow you to get the jump on your competition, undoubtedly looking for the same type of candidates in much the same way. By narrowing your search the first time, you can make direct contact more quickly and start a rapport that could lead to the hiring of top talent for your organization.

Candidates with similar skill sets tend to hang out with each other and travel in the same circles. This tendency to form tight bonds with each other, promote online discussions and participate in online associations can be used to your advantage as a recruiter.

renee

Renee Watkins is on  CAI’s Advice & Resolution Team.   A seasoned HR professional with practical hands-on experience in various human resource functions, Renee provides solutions to retain and motivate outstanding workforces.  She also specializes in counseling and advising management for best practices, processes and strategies to support employee morale and organizational effectiveness.

Talent Acquisition: The Power of Recruiter Pushback

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

One difficulty faced by most recruiters is how to balance the desire to provide great customer service to the hiring manager with the need to speak freely about real issues pertaining to the recruitment process. Conducting a brief job specifications meeting with the hiring manager (prior to initiating the recruitment effort) helps to identify the target and set clear accountabilities for both of you. However, there are clearly times when you need to pushback if the hiring manager is not properly partnering with you.  keepcalmandpushback

Done appropriately, pushback can elevate you from being an ‘order taker’ to becoming a trusted advisor whose input and views are solicited before anything takes place involving talent acquisition.

Here are a few reasons that pushback can be helpful:

♦ Pushback sets clear roles, responsibilities, and timelines for successful partnerships. Once established, it will lead to a far more effective working relationship.

♦ Pushback enables an honest exchange of ideas and open dialogue in areas of disagreement. This exchange ultimately translates into doing the right thing for the hiring manager, the candidate, and the company. For example, sometimes you just need to ‘speak up’ and tell the hiring manager that the candidate they have locked onto is just not a good fit.

♦ Pushback demands accountability from your hiring managers and yourself as it relates to the quality of the process, the interview experience, and the candidate experience. For example, if the hiring manager is claiming to be too busy to review résumés or conduct interviews, pushback may be in order.

♦ Pushback educates and informs your hiring manager about the candidates, the market, the desirability of the position, sourcing strategy, obstacles, compensation levels, and the teamwork required to close the deal.

How do you establish pushback so that it is seen as a positive experience that will enhance processes and improve results?

Here are some tips to start:

  • Do not select your most difficult hiring manager to practice on and be sure you prepare for the conversation in advance. For example, if you are pushing back on the way candidates are being treated in interviews, make a list of what the behaviors are and why they are detrimental.
  • Don’t allow pushback to turn into rudeness or disrespect. Always approach the topic in a respectful manner and be prepared to lay out a well-considered case while being open to new ideas. Remember, HR roles are usually advisory in nature and the hiring manager may, or may not, choose to follow your advice.
  • Pick your battles. While some hiring managers welcome feedback and change, many struggle with it. Bringing a laundry list of complaints to the table may put your hiring managers on the defensive. Don’t be afraid of a healthy dialogue. At times it might resemble an argument, and that’s okay as long as the conversation is productive and the end result is positive for both parties.

In summary, think about pushback as a tool to open the lines of discussion and unplug the talent acquisition bottleneck. Plan your strategy, come to the table armed with research, advice based upon experience, and be prepared for some healthy pushback on your pushback. You will be a better recruiter for it.

Tom_Sheehan-circle

 

Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team.  He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations.

 

When Are You Required to Pay Interns?

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

With summer months fast approaching, many employers are considering employing interns.  CAI’s Advice & Resolution Team often receives questions regarding pay requirements for interns.  There seems to be one school of thought out there that says the employer can decide whether or not they pay interns.  Well in fact, the USDOL (United States Department of Labor) has issued guidance on this issue (Fact Sheet #71.)  This fact sheet Internspecifies tests that must be met to exclude interns from minimum wage and overtime requirements under the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act).

The following criteria must be applied when making this determination:

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship

If ALL of the above factors are met, an employment relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the minimum wage and overtime requirements do not apply.

Of course, the decision to pay an intern goes beyond the legalities of such.  There are many differing opinions as to whether or not employers should pay interns.  Local columnist, Alice Wilder at the Daily Tarheel, has written an interesting article on the virtues of paying an intern, that may be useful in making your decision.

Your Top Performers Can Help Attract Good Talent

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

The recruiting process is, in some ways, very similar to the sales process. In the recruiting sense, the product you are selling to the candidate is your organization and what it can do for them and their career.  As with any sale, you want to position your product in the best possible light, showing key differentiators between your product and your competition.

In an extremely competitive market, like North Carolina, there is an overwhelming array of features and options that can be mixed-and-matched with any product sale togoldfish further confuse the buyer (or candidate).  When faced with so many choices, we often turn to others to see what their experience has been.  This is where your top performers come in!

What is it about your organization that motivates your top performers to give 110% each day?  Why did they choose to “buy” your product, and why do they continue to remain a loyal “customer” today?  The answers to these questions will help you to better position your product against your competition during the recruiting process. Below are a few items that typically motivate top performers.  Your current employees will be able to provide you with what specifically motivates them each day.

  • Compensation – No doubt a paycheck is a strong motivator.  However, the total rewards package also includes other benefits and non-tangible perks such as workplace flexibility.
  • Values – Adoption of a positive corporate culture is one of the most powerful  intangible benefits of working for an organization.  If a company shows a corporate responsibility toward the environment, for example, candidates will appreciate that. Or, if an organization practices charity and giving back to the community, their corporate culture is viewed by many as philanthropic.  These ideals are big attractors for candidates who have similar values.
  • Quality – Product quality and support of the customer base is a big motivator.  It goes back to treating people the way you want to be treated.  An organization that cares about its brand will likely care about its employees in the same manner.
  • Goals – Everyone has goals.  They may be long-range goals, or shorter-range goals which are “stepping stones” to a larger goal.  In either case, when an employee or candidate’s goals are aligned with those of the organization, it is a win-win for everyone.
  • Innovation – Knowing that your organization is open to new ideas and willing to listen to your thoughts on a new product or process can go a long way toward attracting and retaining top performers. Companies that embrace their employees as individual contributors and value their input will have no trouble selling their “product” to potential candidates.

As Human Resource managers, knowing what motivates your top employees today will give you the references you need to convince your candidates to “buy” from you instead of your competitors.  Reach out to your top performers and involve them in the recruiting process.  Ask them what would be important to them if they were interviewing with your company today.  Have them spend a few minutes alone with a candidate to talk freely about why they choose to work here.  If you’re recruiting college graduates, take your stars with you during campus recruiting trips.  We have one member that takes newly hired engineers on college recruiting trips.  They tell potential recruits about all the cool projects they get to work on (whereas in many companies new engineers do grunt work).  This practice alone has helped the company become a destination place for top engineers.  There is nothing more convincing than a solid reference from someone who consistently uses your “product” on a daily basis.

And remember, as Jill Feldman, CAI’s HR ON Demand consultant states, “recruiting and hiring is NOT the sole responsibility of Human Resources. Anyone who has people reporting to them is responsible for recruiting and hiring.  Don’t be afraid to get others involved in the process.

Avoid Making Bad Hire Decisions

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

A great hire can inject a spark in your organization that will spread throughout your workforce and drive everyone to raise the bar.  Likewise, a bad hire can deflate your employees, costing time and resources to either train or replace them with a better fit.

The difference between a great hire and a bad hire can often rely on how the interview is conducted.  Below is a list of common mistakes made during the interview process that you will want to avoid.Bad-Employee - Bad Hire

Overlooking Important Skills

Interviewers will sometimes put too much emphasis on the specific skills required for a position while overlooking traits such as critical thinking or initiative, that are often harder to develop or come by naturally.  Organizational fit is at least as important as technical ability.  Many experts argue fit is more important.

Asking Hypothetical Questions

Some interviewers will ask questions such as “How would you handle a problem client?” or “How would you close a difficult sale?”  These hypothetical questions will yield hypothetical answers.  Instead, use “Tell me about how you once handled a problem client?” or “Tell me about the most difficult sale you had to close”.  These answers will relate real experiences for you to evaluate.

No Follow-up Questions

During an interview, some interviewers will ask only one or two questions regarding each job listed on the candidate’s resume.  Instead, dig deeper in order to get more information.  Zero in on a prior job that is closely related to your opening and spend some quality time on that experience.  The details of that job will give you a better idea of how qualified they are for this position.

InterviewingToo Much Talk About Company

Interviews that spend too much time on the company, its history, its product or services, etc., will yield little information on the candidate’s qualifications.  Remember, you are here to find out about this candidate and their experience.  A serious candidate will have already researched your company and would not be at the interview if they were not interested. Spend the limited amount of time you have on what is important – the candidate.  A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t be talking more than 20% of the interview time.

 

No Live Testing

As they say, “talk is cheap.”  Questions and answers during an interview worked fine in the past.  If you really want to separate your stars from the pack, simulate real activities the candidate will face.  For example, if interviewing candidates for a sales role, have them prepare a slide presentation of their qualifications and “sell” themselves to your team.  This “live test” cannot be conducted for every role, but use it where applicable.

Intimidation

Likely, there is already enough pressure on the candidate during an interview without deliberately adding more.  Some interviewers, however, will try to see how a candidate responds to high-pressure, intimidating interviews.  High pressure and intimidation is not the norm for the workplace or, at least, it should not be.  Therefore, it makes no sense to put the candidate through that.  It might backfire on you and you may lose a top candidate.

One-sided Viewpoint

A smart interviewer will be very candid and up-front with the candidate about both the positive and negative aspects of the job.  By only focusing on the positive aspects, the candidate will begin to wonder what you are not telling him/her.  This will lead to doubt about the position.  Honestly describing everything about the role, on the other hand, will lead to trust and will help you to avoid surprises down the line.

Inconsiderate or Unprofessional

Never start an interview late or cancel at the last minute without offering an apology.  Do not read your emails or accept phone calls during an interview.  This sends a message to the candidate that they are not important to you or your organization.

Average Attention for Above-average Candidates

Interviewers should remember the candidate is also interviewing the company during an interview session and afterwards.  Top candidates typically have multiple options from which to choose. If you are interested in a specific candidate, let them know by paying special attention to them after the interview. Send a thank-you email and provide them with your positive feedback on how you felt the interview went.  Have a manager or potential employee peer reach out to them and ask if they have any further questions.  Show definite signs of interest on your part in order to keep their interest.

Hire Personalities, Not Skills and Experience

Too often, we tend to want to hire people we like based on their personality or how well they get through an interview.  Do not fall into this trap.  At the end of the day, you want the brightest and most qualified people as a part of your workforce.  Everyone is different and diversity has a way of bringing out new ideas and new forms of collaboration that leads to greater productivity.

Making a bad hire decision wastes everyone’s time and will take some of the energy and momentum away from your company.  Avoiding these common mistakes during the interview process will give you the best potential for making a great hire and building your workforce with strong, qualified employees.
renee

Renee Watkins is on  CAI’s Advice & Resolution Team.   A seasoned HR professional with practical hands-on experience in various human resource functions, Renee provides solutions to retain and motivate outstanding workforces.  She also specializes in counseling and advising management for best practices, processes and strategies to support employee morale and organizational effectiveness.

Good Hiring Managers Make Effective Use of Data

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News & Observer column, The View from HR.

Human Resources and management require soft and hard skills. Still, the best HR leaders and managers succeed primarily because of their soft skills in working with people. The ones who fail usually have inadequate soft skills.

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Because HR and management professionals rely so much on their ability to advise, convince and problem solve, they too often underutilize hard skills that could make them even more effective. One hard skill that would make us all better is the regular and effective use of data.

I am not talking here about “big data”, the kind of server clogging repositories that allow marketers to slice you up into multiple consumer categories. No, I am talking about basic data every workplace has, or can easily obtain, to make much better decisions.

We meet employers frustrated with their inability to hire the right people for the job. “Where are the candidates?” “Which internet sites should we use?” Those are probably the wrong questions.

Finding success

A better place to start is where you have success today. Where did the best hires in the last two years come from? How did they find us? Which prospects did we successfully convert at a higher rate than others? Can we find out where this particular skill set “hangs out” digitally and how they prefer to send and receive communications?

When we make good hires but they do not stay long, why is that? Where are they going? What were the reasons? Are we avoiding the difficult pay decisions? Did we talk with them or just warn them not to violate their non-compete clause?

Some data is numerical and some is opinion information sliced in useful ways. For example, we conduct a 31 statement organizational assessment for member companies that asks management team members to rank how they think they are doing on important measures. When the team replies collectively we are at 1 or 2 on “we always hire the best people for the job”, there is a problem.

Right data

The value of HR and management data is to help frame the right questions. If we all agree the company does a poor job hiring great people, then we can ask if we want to improve, the benefits of improving, how we can improve and what resources are needed. Without this data, it is so easy for opinions to dominate and action to be delayed.

Author and businessman Andrew Glasow said: “The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.” A danger in HR is that the relative lack of traditional numerical data from accounting or operations allows us to hide from the facts. Yes, data must be interpreted, but an imperfect interpretation of reality is better than a mere reaction to anecdotes.

Employers should look for the data right in front of them in the form of opinions, results, behaviors, rankings, ratings, preferences, effectiveness, cost, market pricing, efficiency, rationale, alignment, purpose and points of agreement (or disagreement). It will be well worth the reasonable effort required to collect and analyze.

Helping Managers Overcome Performance Review Anxiety

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

performancereview

In today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins shares helpful tips for managers looking to escape that dreaded performance review anxiety. 

Conducting performance reviews and discussions on a regular basis is a key part of a manager’s responsibility.  Conducting a performance review also carries a certain amount of anxiety, as any manager tasked with providing one can attest. There is always the potential of a dispute over the facts, a difference in perspective, or even an unplanned, unexpected, or premature discussion regarding compensation.

In order to effectively have performance discussions that identify employee accomplishments, address areas for improvement, and generate individual development plans, managers must get past any anxious feelings and move through the process confidently and deliberately. Below are some tips which will help managers overcome some of their apprehension:

Expect Some Negotiating 

Approximately one out of every five employees will work to negotiate some part of the performance review process.  It may be around the rating itself, the wording of the review pertaining to “areas for improvement” or even the compensation aspect of the review – even though this typically occurs in a subsequent discussion.   Expect it and be prepared for it.  Anticipating issues, understanding what latitude you have within your organization’s guidelines, and knowing your response(s) will go a long way towards you  being  successful in this part of the meeting.

Keep it Conversational 

Performance reviews should be conversational. Remember, this is also your employees’ opportunity to provide their input and feedback on the performance period under review.  By keeping it conversational, you will remain at ease as will your employee.

Know the Details 

Some performance reviews are conducted only once a year.  This makes it not only difficult, but imperative that details are provided during the review.  Recalling the specifics of something that happened ten months ago can be a challenge for both you and your employee.  Having accurate details can make things easier to discuss and avoid disputes. Moving forward consider meeting once a month to discuss progress towards goals and objectives. These discussions will benefit both you and the employee for the annual review meeting – which would now be more of a “year in review” format.

Take Time to Consider 

There may be questions or considerations which arise during a review that need some additional thought.  This may include an employee request about a different job assignment or perhaps a promotion.   If the answer is not obvious or if you are not prepared to have that conversation at the moment, advise the employee that you need additional time to consider his/her request.  This is reasonable, but make sure you get back the employee within the stated time allotted.

Time to Re-evaluate Process/Approach? 

If you have reviewed tips above and your managers still feel somewhat anxious about conducting a performance review, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate your approach or the process in general.  Maybe the reason they are so uncomfortable is because something about the process leaves them with a lack of conviction in some area of either evaluating the employee’s performance, measuring improvement, ability to have a “critical conversation”, or some other aspect of the review details.

Maybe it’s time for a critical review of your process.  CAI can help – give our Advice & Resolution team a ring at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746!

Please be sure to share below any tips you have about overcoming the pressure and anxiety of performance reviews.

Can We Control Healthcare Cost By Utilizing Medicare?

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

hcwhealthcarepicThe post below is a guest blog from Dax Hill who serves as Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

Did you know Medicare reimbursement rates for healthcare are typically lower than reimbursement rates paid by insurance companies?  Some employers are taking notice and indexing their employer reimbursement rates to the Medicare rates in hopes of trying to control their medical claims spent.

This arrangement is typically called “Reference Based Contracting” or a “Cost Plus” program.

There are many flavors of these types of programs, but here’s how these funding arrangements generally work….

  • An employer self-funds their medical insurance plan utilizing a Third Party Administrator (TPA)
  • The TPA partners with a network of doctors to provide discounts on medical services for “professional” charges. The medical reimbursement rates are based on the negotiated charges agreed upon by the network and doctors….this is similar to most of the current arrangements.
  • For “facility” charges, though, things get interesting. Instead of using the typical insurance carrier’s negotiated rates, reimbursements are based on Medicare reimbursement rates. For example, the TPA agrees to reimburse the medical facility at 120% of the Medicare allowed amount.  Medicare reimbursement rates are generally much lower than the typical insurance carrier negotiated rates.  These lower reimbursements (indexed to Medicare) can lead to claims savings to both the employer and employee.

All of this sounds good so far – who doesn’t want to pay a lower price?  There must be some catch, right?  The main concern for these programs is this: what happens if the hospital or medical facility push back and do not accept the employer/TPA reimbursement rates?  The amounts over the employer’s allowed price gets transferred to the employee.

For example, let’s say an employee receives a $5,000 medical procedure and the employer’s allowed amount is $1,000.  In this scenario, the hospital may decide to “balance bill” the employee for the $4,000 difference.  It is important for the employee to appeal this balance bill.  Most TPAs that focus in this market partner with legal counsel that represent the employee at no additional cost to the employee.  The attorney handles the appeal for the employee.  The attorney will send the medical facility a letter stating the reimbursement is adhering to the employers ERISA plan document and the employee should not be balanced bill.  The attorney explains that the employer and employee are paying above what’s normally acceptable (since most of the facility’s patients are covered by Medicare).

At some point, hospitals and facilities will become more aggressive in trying to 1) collect the balance bill from the employee 2) refuse to provide healthcare to individuals that are enrolled on these types of insurance plans or 3) negotiate on the allowed amount.  In the meantime, these plans are getting attention of employers as they try to best manage their healthcare cost.

Take a look at the pros and cons of Reference Based Pricing and the key considerations employers should look at prior to implementing these plans in this white paper.

Here’s How HR Earns a Seat At the Business Table

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

In today’s post, Advice & Resolution Manager Rick Washburn discusses how HR professionals can earn their seat at the table by building a bridge between their role and the larger purpose of the company.

Do you have a “seat at the table?”  This is an age old question in HR circles and it is basically asking if you are an HR business partner and as such are you and your team delivering maximum results to help your business achieve its goals and strategy?  If you do not have a seat at the table what are you doing to earn it?  If you are just waiting for it to happen I’m afraid you may be out of luck.

HR professionals must ensure that there is a direct connection between the policies, programs, and services they offer and the organization’s larger purpose/picture.  Absent that clear and intentional linkage, HR is just a cost center that goes under appreciated and delivers minimum real value to the business.  In order for HR leaders to take a strategic approach to their work they must first fully understand their business (business acumen) and what the HR implications are to the business.  HR leaders must also be able to articulate their views clearly and concisely to business leaders which often times means taking an unpopular position (managerial courage).  Influence skills are exceptionally important also.

A prerequisite to the above is to ensure, at a minimum, that your HR organization is effectively and efficiently delivering HR services.  Providing good service is the price of admission; if HR cannot operate effectively as a “mini business,” it will be hard to convince others that its input on business issues is worth much.

A good place to start your HRPB journey: Staffing.  HR typically has influence when it comes to how staffing relates to strategy.  In other words, HR needs to recruit and hire X talent, in Y location(s) over a specific time frame in order for the business to perform and execute its strategy and there are many discussions with leaders in that process.  This is often a good place to leverage and increase HR’s role as a strategic partner.  Conversations with senior leaders in this space should be relatively easy to have. Ensure you have solid and meaningful staffing metrics such as the quality of hires, not simply how many hires over a given time frame. Incorporate competencies into your talent acquisition process to help ensure your hires are a “good fit.”  Include senior leaders in this process.

Once instilled in the recruiting process, competencies can easily be transitioned and effectively used in the performance management process to measure “how” employees are doing their jobs. The performance management process is a very effective way to articulate and cascade the company’s strategy and goals across the entire organization and can also be the catalyst for additional strategic discussions with senior leadership.

If you can effectively accomplish the above in your organization, you will have built a very solid foundation from which to grow into a true HR business partner role and earn your seat at the table. Please also review our Learn & GO HR/organizational modules on myCAI to help you in this journey.  If you would like to discuss this journey in the context of your current role and business environment please call Tom Sheehan or myself here at CAI.

For any other questions, please contact our Advice & Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746!